New Oklahoma law cracks down on left-lane slowpokes
05/18/2009 - 12:06:52 am
Previously HB1368, the new rule allows law enforcement officers to crack down on slowpokes who clog traffic by driving in the left lanes of multilane roadways. It takes effect Nov. 1.
A similar rule change recently was signed into law in neighboring Kansas. The new law there limits use of the left lane for passing only. It applies only to highways outside city limits.
The lane use rule in Kansas takes effect July 1, 2009. Violators will receive warnings for the first year. After July 1, 2010, officers will hand out tickets.
The action in the two Midwestern states was welcome news to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The Association says it is common sense to have rules in place that slower vehicles yield to traffic moving at the speed limit.
At least 20 states have similar left-lane restriction rules, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Woody Black of Chandler, OK, said slow-moving traffic in the left lane is a detriment to safety, and ticketing those drivers is warranted.
“If the speed limit is 65 and they’re doing 55 in the left hand lane, and making people pass them on the right, that’s an unsafe situation. They should be given warnings and then cited,” Black told Land Line.
Black said it’s common sense to yield to oncoming traffic. A longtime trucker, he laments the lack of courtesy among road users.
“When you’re blocking the flow of traffic behind you unnecessarily, that’s just not courteous. The normal person should be courteous,” he said.
Oklahoma state Sen. Kenneth Corn said the rule would add some teeth to Oklahoma law and allow the Highway Patrol to issue tickets to drivers who spend too much time in the passing lanes. Corn, D-Poteau, said that the patrol now cannot issue tickets solely for driving slowly in the passing lane.
While he supports the push to keep slower traffic right, Black said he is concerned the Highway Patrol could use the new law to enhance their revenues.
“It shouldn’t be a moneymaker for the state,” Black said. That’s what the state police in OK will try to turn around and do with it.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor Land Line Magazine